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Legislature fails to override gun law veto

The Missouri Legislature failed to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the Second Amendment Preservation Act.

The measure failed to garner two-thirds of the Senate votes Wednesday night. The Senate was one vote short; the final tally was 22-12 in support of the override. The House sent the override to the Senate on a 109-49 vote, with three voting “present.”

The measure, known by critics as the gun nullification bill, states that the supremacy of the federal Constitution “does not apply to various federal statutes, orders, rules, regulations, or other actions which restrict or prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition exclusively within the borders of Missouri.” Those, it says, “exceed the powers granted to the federal government.”

It also would have made it a crime to publish the names of gun owners. The Missouri Press Association opposed the bill on this point, Doug Crews, MPA executive director, said in an email.

The Senate debated for 80 minutes before killing the override; the House debate ended after 50 minutes, according to the MPA.

Nixon vetoed the law on July 5, calling it unconstitutional and in violation of the Supremacy Clause, which spells out that federal law supersedes state law.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the governor said: “Missourians deserve common sense solutions that move Missouri forward. As a gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment, I applaud the bipartisan vote in the Senate to sustain my veto of this unnecessary, unconstitutional and unsafe nullification bill.”

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, and Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, joined all 10 Senate Democrats in voting against the override.

The gun bill has met with a barrage of criticism from law enforcement officials, from Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to St. Louis-based U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan. Police chiefs in the St. Louis area and in Kansas City have also come out against the bill.

Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Charles County, sponsored the legislation. On Wednesday he said the bill would protect Missourians’ right to keep and bear arms.

“The sky’s not going to fall. The streets are not going to fill up with blood,” he said. “But we have a chance to stand up and stand together at a time and age when our federal government can’t even pass a budget.”

Rep. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis County, quoted from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, saying, “The right to bear arms is not without limitations.”

Schupp and Rep. Judy Morgan, D-Kansas City, voiced opposition to the bill based on First Amendment concerns.

The bill would have make it illegal for newspapers to publish the names of anyone who owns a gun, Schupp said, and would have enabled criminals to hide their identities from publication simply because they own guns.